Thursday, October 31, 2013

halloween update

Happy Halloween!  For some reason this has always been my favorite holiday.  I haven't dressed up in years, but there's just something about seeing little kids trick-or-treating that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  I also am a sucker for Halloween decorations as well as the month of October.

Anyways, I've been on a little blogging hiatus since the marathon.  I was feeling down mentally and physically the following week, and then was going through some personal things that caused me to take a small break from reality, and definitely left me with no desire to write.  I did however, spend a lot of time snuggling with this guy:

He's a good snuggler (is that a word?) 
And drinking many of these:

Unfortunately, I guess bad things have to happen so you can learn from them and see the good things...?  I definitely learned a lot in these past couple of weeks.  I learned a lot about myself, as well as others, and the importance of good old communication.  It was a rough ride, but I had a lot of incredible support.  Thankfully, things took an unexpected turn for the best and are moving in a much better direction.       

I am now in my third week post-marathon and back in to training.  The first week after the marathon was somewhat of a rest week, although I did not take it off completely.  I went for a walk the day after to try to loosen up my muscles a bit.  I was sore.  Very sore.  That week I ran three times, very slowly, starting at 20 min and ending at 42 min on Saturday.  The soreness slowly subsided, along with the feeling of disappointment from not doing as well as I had hoped at the marathon.  I was beginning to feel ready to look ahead at the race calendar, instead of focusing on what had already happened.

I have started training again for what's to come, while still trying to take it somewhat easy by taking an extra rest day each week.  I am excited to be back but also don't want to push it and do too much too soon and risk an injury.  On today's agenda: 15 min warm up, 2 mile tempo, 2 min rest, 800 @ 10k pace, 3 min rest, 2 mile tempo, 15 min cool down.

What's next on the race calendar?  I am running the Seacoast Half Marathon on November 10 in Portsmouth, NH.  I have never done this race before and am excited to see what it's all about.  Tomorrow, the registration opens for the Vermont City Marathon and I am planning to register.  I know it's not exactly the flat course I was hoping to find, but I LOVE the city of Burlington and feel like I can't pass up the opportunity to run through the streets.  Who's with me?!

for some reason I really liked this little quote.

Monday, October 14, 2013

two timer

This post is a little difficult for me to write.  I was hoping I could write all about how I crushed my goal and finished the United Healthcare Marathon in under 4 hrs.  I was hoping I could write about how I felt great and followed the plan.  I was hoping I could write about how excited and happy I am about finishing my second marathon.  Well, unfortunately, that is not the case.  I am happy I finished my second marathon.  I am happy that I reached my second goal of a new PR.  But there are many more things I am unhappy about, and unfortunately that is what's on my mind right now.  Usually I try to be positive about the result of a race whether I felt it was good or bad.  I know I am still learning and have a LOT to learn.  I know I still have a lot of growing to do as a runner.  I feel like I have a lot of potential.  But right now I'm having a hard time with falling short of my sub 4 hr marathon goal.  

Here's how the weekend went.  Saturday we headed down to RI around noon.  My boyfriend and I picked up my friend, Julie, who would be running her second half marathon as well.  The plan was to meet up with a couple of my other friends, who were also running the race, at the expo in Newport.  We got there around 2:30 and picked up our numbers.  The expo was in a tent right on the beach.  It was beautiful.  We played in the sand for a bit before making a trip to the grocery store.

a feather to match my shirt

After going to the grocery store, all 6 of us went over to my dad's house in Tiverton, where we were all staying.  He and my stepmom made a delicious pasta dinner for all of us.  We had some wine, hydrated, relaxed, and went to bed early.

At 4:30 am my alarm went off.  I didn't sleep well that night, so I had a little trouble getting my butt out of bed.  I always try to give myself plenty of time before the race to have coffee, wake up, and choke down some food.  Just before 7 we loaded up the cars and headed over the the marathon parking at Second Beach.  We had to take a bus over to the start of the race at Easton's Beach.  After visiting the porta-potties, we lined up and got ready to go.  My stomach was in knots.  I was super nervous but excited it was finally time.  

Monica, Beth, myself, and Julie before the start

My plan originally was to stay around 9 min/mile pace for the first part of the race.  If I felt good, then I would start to run a little faster.  However, my friend, Beth (who is typically MUCH faster than me) said she would run with me and help me reach my goal of sub 4 hrs.  She thought I was capable of finishing around 3:50, so planned to run around an 8:45 pace.  I went with it.  BIG MISTAKE.   

Through the first half of the race I felt pretty good.  My legs were burning a little, but there were a few hills, and I was hoping I would be able to recover.  I got caught up in the excitement, the people, and the amazing views.  Our paces ranged from 8:30-9 min.  I was feeling optimistic.  

One of the beautiful Newport beaches 

so many amazing views on the water

This race has a half marathon option.  Those doing the full and the half run the same course, and then those doing the full continue on.  We ran next to the finish line for the half.  We heard all the names being announced of those finishing.  We saw all the people cheering for those finishing the half and those cheering for the rest of us who were crazy enough to run another 13.1 miles.  Once we passed through this area and turned the corner for the second part of the course, my mind began to race.  I suddenly couldn't believe I had to run another 13.1 miles.  I wanted to turn around and be done.  My body felt tired, my stomach was nauseous, I had a lump in my throat, and I freaked out.  The words "I can't do this" actually left my mouth.  I started walking.  My mind and my body were not cooperating.  I really started to believe I might not actually finish this thing.  What the hell was happening to me?!      

Thankfully, Beth was there to keep me going.  She said some encouraging words and urged me to keep going.  I wanted to punch her in the face at the time, but was so grateful to have her there.  The next few miles I continued to walk/run and struggled to keep moving forward.  I thought of the quote I wear on my wrist from Kara Goucher, "A step forward, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. Keep believing."  I kept moving forward.  

At this point, I think around mile 16, I told my friend to go ahead.  She was fully capable of finishing the way we had planned.  I didn't want to hold her back and knew I was going to struggle through the remaining 10+ miles.  She made me promise her I would finish the race no matter what.  I made that promise and then watched as she ran ahead in to the distance until I could no longer see her anymore.  I was crushed.  This wasn't how this race was supposed to go.  I was supposed to be running along side her and finishing the race next to her.  Once I came to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to finish under 4 hrs, I readjusted my plan and focused on my second goal of finishing with a new PR, which was still very much within reach.  

The last 10 miles weren't pretty, but I got through them.  I walked through each water stop and made sure to drink as much as I could.  I felt like I needed more fuel.  The shot blocks I had just weren't cutting it that day.  I needed something.  I grabbed a banana from one of the tables (what?!).  I drank some more water and gatorade and told myself to just keep moving forward.  My stomach was still hurting.  I questioned making a bathroom stop, but the thought of squatting in a porta-potty with how tired my legs were helped me make the decision not to.  The second half of the course had many more long, unforgiving hills than the first.  Running downhill started to become just as hard as running up.  I continued to make my way through the miles, very slowly.  It wasn't pretty.  

As I started to climb the last hill around mile 24 I tried to pick up the pace a little.  I started to picture all my friends and family at the finish line waiting for me.  I knew they all would be proud of me, even though I made them wait for me at the finish longer than planned.  Finally, I turned the corner just before mile 26 and saw the white tent at Easton's Beach.  I heard the cheers and the announcer announcing the names of those finishing, this time for the full marathon.  I felt my legs start to run faster.  I saw my family just before the last turn heading for the finish.  I turned the last corner and immediately heard the announcer say my name.  I saw my friends and my boyfriend all cheering for me.  I gave it all I had through the finish.  


giving it all I had

crossing the finish line

I finally crossed the finish line in 4 hours, 19 minutes, and 17 seconds.  A new PR by over 20 minutes.  I was very happy I didn't give up when I thought I was going to.  I fought through and finished the race, even though I knew my big goal was no longer in reach.  I won the battle with my mind when it told me I couldn't do it.  I am happy to say I have completed 2 marathons.  

Yesterday I felt ok about what happened.  I was upset obviously, but was happy I didn't give up.  Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't fall back to sleep because I couldn't stop thinking about the race and what happened.  I couldn't stop thinking about what could have happened if I had done it differently.  What could have happened if I stuck to my original plan and didn't run with my friend.  Today those thoughts have continued to run through my head.  I wish I had run my own race and followed MY plan.  My biggest fear was going out too fast, and not enjoying the later miles because of it.  My biggest fear became reality yesterday.  

Of course, with any disappointment, there can always me a million what ifs.  I've shed a few tears and am now trying to work through the disappointment and focus on the fact that I crossed the finish line over 20 min faster than I did when I ran my first marathon in 2007.  I think the hardest part is that I really believe I am capable of more, and I wasn't able to prove it yesterday.  

So, I didn't reach my big what?  Another marathon.  Disappointment is all part of the process.  I guess I can't win them all (although that would be pretty cool, huh?).  I'm giving myself a couple of days to be bummed and upset, and then it's time to move on and focus on the next.  Now I have a better understanding of what to do and what not to do.  I know I can get there.  It's just going to take a little longer than I had hoped.                                  

Friday, October 11, 2013

almost time to run a marathon!

I almost can't believe the marathon is only 2 days away!  However, the constant butterflies in my stomach are a good reminder.  I also had my first ever marathon nightmare last night.  I think it's safe to say I have marathon brain.  I'll be lucky if I can remember much of anything else today.

I have been on vacation this week, which has been great.  I have been taking full advantage of not running all the time, and not working either.  Here's a quick recap of the week:

Saturday:  I met up with Stephanie to do a 12 mile run.  On the schedule was 5 easy, 5 @ MP and 2 easy.  You can read Stephanie's recap of the run here.  Unfortunately, she didn't have the best of days.  But I finished that run feeling great and ready to tackle a marathon.  After we finished running I went to cheer on my friends running the Applefest Half Marathon.  One of my friends, Julie, was running her first half.  It was so exciting to see her finish!!  

cheering is almost as fun as racing!

After the race we all went apple picking at a local apple orchard.  It was a lot of fun!

never too old to climb a tree!
I couldn't resist playing in the sunflowers 

Sunday:  Easy 50 min run followed by watching the Patriots game. 

Monday: REST 

Tuesday:  Tuesday was supposed to be 15 min warm up, 2 x 200m, 3 min recovery, 2 mi @ HMP, 3 min recovery, fast 800, 15 min cool down.  This run was a bit of a disaster.  The 200's were ok, but I just felt off.  My breathing was heavy from the start and my legs didn't feel like running.  I had to stop and walk during the 2 miles at half marathon pace, and the 800 was anything but fast.  I felt defeated.  It's was not exactly the run I wanted the week before the marathon.  Thankfully, I had some friends to talk me off the ledge and assure me this is normal.  

Wednesday: 30 min w/ 4 x 100m strides.  Thankfully my body decided to cooperate for this run.  After running we took a trip up to Burlington, VT for the night.  I have some friends who live up there and wanted to visit.  I had only been to Burlington once before, but didn't really remember it, and the BF had never been.  Holy crap, Burlington is beautiful!!  The entire drive up I was in awe of the amazing views of the mountains.  We spent the afternoon walking around, enjoying VT beers and cider, and the delicious food.  I was blown away. 

Lake Champlain

Enjoying a cider at The Farmhouse

Gorgeous sunset


Thursday:  I was able to run in Burlington before heading home to NH.  I had 15 min warm up, 3 min medium effort, 2 min medium-hard, and 1 min hard with 3 min easy jogging in between each, 15 min cool down.  I ran down to the lake and along a bike path.  It was absolutely beautiful!  The run itself felt pretty good, although I probably stopped a few too many times to take pictures.  I fell in love with VT.


Friday:  REST.  Today is a rest day.  It's 11:23 and I haven't gotten off the couch yet.  I fully embrace the rest days.  Today I have to pack for Rhode Island, paint my nails, clean the house, and decide what I am going to wear.  I have NO idea what to wear.  Well, that's not true...I have a few options, but it's causing me serious anxiety.  The forecast as of right now looks pretty perfect though: 60 degrees and 20% chance of rain.  I'll take it!

Tomorrow my friends and I are traveling down to RI.  I plan to do a 20 min easy run before heading down and then wrapping myself in compression gear for the remainder of the day.  One of my friends is running the full marathon with me.  To my surprise she told me last night she planned to run with me and help me reach my goal of sub-4hrs.  She is a super speedy runner, but apparently hasn't had time to put in the training she'd like.  So she graciously agreed to pace me.  I seriously can't thank her enough.  My step brother is also running the full, and 3 of my friends are running the half marathon.  I am so grateful for all the support and know it's going to help tremendously.  

Bring it on, Rhode Island!  I'm ready for you.         

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

hashtag I love fall

In case you haven't seen should.

Happy October!  It seems like people either love or hate fall.  I am definitely one of the lovers.  It is absolutely my favorite season, and October is by far my favorite month.

This past weekend was a great confidence building weekend for me.  I am now less than two weeks away from running 26.2 miles around Newport, RI.  I feel like I'm at a great point in my training and am really starting to feel (almost) ready for this race. Don't get me wrong, I'm still scared as hell, but in a kind of a crazy excited way.

Here's how the weekend went...

Saturday: 5k in Brookline, NH.  The race is called Jordan's Walk for Wishes Dash for Dreams.  From the website: "Jordan's Walk is an annual FAST 5K run and walk in memory of Jordan Coffey, a 14-year-old former student at the Richard Maghakian Memorial School, who lost his battle with brain cancer in September 2005. All proceeds from Jordan's Walk benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of NH."  I had been looking for another shorter race before the marathon, and this sounded like a great one to do.  This was my 3rd 5k this year, as well as my 3rd ever.  My goal was a new PR and to finish under 23min.  I was ready to push hard, feel the 5k pain, and give it all I had.  

Pre 5k Oiselle photo shoot...ready to race!

gotta love the outtakes

Honestly, the race itself is a bit of a blur.  It was a small race, with people of all ages, including many small kids lined up at the front.  I found a spot near the front of the pack and waited for the green light.  Everyone took off pretty quickly.  I found myself near the head of the pack and tried my hardest throughout the race to hold on.  It didn't take long for the group to thin out.  I found myself behind a man in a bright yellow shirt, who I followed (probably a little too closely) for the remainder of the race.  I really don't remember much else.  A couple hills, lots of heavy breathing, the finish line, and the clock.

Ready to run

Where's waldo?

my yellow-shirted friend and I looking for the finish

Official time: 22:19.  I was pretty damn happy with that.  I was the 10th person to cross the line, 3rd female overall, and 1st in my age group.  I realize placement doesn't mean a whole lot, especially in small races.  But I was and AM very happy with my accomplishments.  I worked hard for that one. 

Sunday: 18 miles.  I had no idea what to expect from this long run.  I have to admit, my legs felt tired from the 5k when I woke up Sunday morning.  I was also doing this run alone, so the motivation had to come from myself.  I mapped out a new route, put on some compression socks, and was out the door by 8. 

I was an absolutely beautiful day for a run.  The temp was near 50 when I started, and got up in to the low 60's when I finished.  The sky seemed extra blue.  It was pretty much the definition of a perfect fall day in New England.  I felt much better than I expected throughout most of the run.  The only exception was around mile 10-12 when I wasn't sure if I was going to need to get a little too friendly with the woods.  Thankfully, things settled and I was able to leave nature's bathroom for the animals.

Less than 2 weeks, 11 days, two 12hr work days, 3 weekend days, 1 week of vacation, 9 or 10 runs, and 2 or 3 rest days separate me from running my second marathon.  But really, who's counting?!